Marching off to pre-school is a big day for any little girl but for Indie Hogan’s parents, Samara and Ciaran, Tuesday (August 29) marked a very special day. The three-year old from Lurgan suffered acute liver failure as a baby and was given a life-saving liver transplant when she was just 19 days old. Now she’s excited to be heading off on a new adventure, like any other child of her age.
Indie appeared healthy when she was born in May 2020 but her parents took her to their local hospital in Craigavon when she was 12 days old because they were concerned that what had initially thought to be reflux might be more serious.
“She also had jaundice but that had already been checked and considered to be normal baby jaundice,” says Samara. “So it was worrying when blood tests showed that her liver was not functioning properly.”
The family was urgently transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where further tests and scans revealed Indie was suffering from acute liver failure. “It was a dreadful shock,” says Samara. “She was placed on the super urgent list transplant list immediately and was fortunate that a liver became available within days and the transplant was a success. We still don’t know what caused her liver to fail.”
Indie’s hospitals stay and transplant took place during lockdown, and although this involved many restrictions, her parents feel that the overall impact on her development is less than it might have been.
“It’s true that Indie couldn’t mix with other children, but all babies born around that time didn’t have the usual start,” says Samara. “Because of this and the fact that she had so much interaction with medical professionals, I didn’t feel she was falling behind in meeting her milestones.”
It was as Indie was recovering from her transplant that her parents became aware of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF).
“CLDF are such a brilliant support for families in our situation and are always so friendly and helpful,” says Samara. They have provided us with various information leaflets, a pack to share with Indies pre-school to give guidance on managing a child with liver disease, and have even spoken to the teacher to offer support and answer any questions.
“Indie has done so well since her transplant and continues to amaze us. She has daily medicine and attends regular hospital appointments but she’s outgoing and sociable and her liver condition hasn’t held her back at all.
“She has been so excited about starting school and we are very excited for her because we know she is going to love it. We are obviously nervous as she will be in a class with so many other kids each day and there is always the worry of risk of infection but we just have to remind ourselves that we are lucky she is well and able to go to school. The nurses said to us once that we can’t wrap her in cotton wool, she got a second chance at life so we have to let her live it. We just remind ourselves of that and take things as they come.”
Mairead Ritchie, PR & Comms Manager at Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, added: “It’s brilliant to see Indie hitting this milestone at the same time as her peers. We’re delighted to have helped with her entry into pre-school and will continue to be there for her and her family throughout her educational journey.”
For more information on CLDF visit childliverdisease.org.